At a time when ‘doing you’ has never been cooler and diversity is the new black, we’re all about saying goodbye to conformity. Embracing what works for you is one of the cornerstones of our philosophy at Open Universities Australia – there is no right or wrong way to do anything, not even education.
We’ve spent the last 20 years exploring the many weird and wonderful ways to get your study done, as we certainly weren’t the first to challenge the status quo. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned from a selection of the world’s most successful inventors, creators, writers and rulers.
Horror writer Stephen King knows so much about writing he wrote a book on writing called On Writing. True story. In his book, King says one of the reasons why he is so successful could be His commitment to writing 10 pages a day, every day of the year, without fail. King sticks to his guns, even on birthdays and Christmas. That’s a lot of writing each day, and it has led to some incredible results: King is one of the most prolific writers of our time.
Similarly, Ernest Hemingway made a habit of writing 500 words every day. He would rise early every morning to beat the heat, and work on his quota. He elaborated on the reasons for his diligence once in a letter to F Scott Fitzgerald: “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of s***,” he confided in 1934. “I try to put the s*** in the wastebasket.”
The moral? Out of habit comes output. How habit is formed is up to you.
America author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou made keeping her work and home life a priority. In fact, she took it so seriously that she rented out a small hotel room and equipped it with nothing more than a deck of cards, her writing tools and a bottle of sherry. Not a bad way to keep yourself focused – unless you’re prone to getting distracted by tipsy Solitaire.
Arianna Huffington, writer, editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Huffington Post has many lessons to share on the topic of balance. In her book Thrive, she writes that after nearly collapsing from exhaustion after the launch of The Huffington Post, she removed all technology from her bedroom except for an old alarm clock in order to get some sleep. That makes sense in this crazy non-stop digital world.
The moral? Do whatever you need to do to protect your down time.
King Otto of Bavaria (1848-1916) took quite an extreme approach to establishing a routine, by shooting a peasant every morning before work. Luckily his advisors learned to slip blank bullets into his gun, and perfected the role of a dying man. Whilst a morning routine is a great way of getting focused, we’d recommend a good game of Call of Duty or a hit of tennis over cold blooded murder.
You could also consider mixing up the traditional 9-5 work day. For example, gothic novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. That may also have something to do with her vampiric subject matter, to be honest. Alternatively, you could break up your day like Polish writer Jerzy Kosinski, who slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. Kosinski would wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, and then work some more that evening.
The moral? Everyone’s got their own way of working. Embrace yours.
Your ‘golden hour’ is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your To Do list. Unluckily, not all of us are at our peak between 9 and 5 – some biological clocks prefer a night owl routine over that of a morning lark. Regardless of which camp you sit in, ff you find your best time, protect it with all your might.
If you’re a night owl, you’re in great company – joined by the likes of Barack Obama, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci. Another example is Les Miserables author Victor Hugo, who valued his morning productivity so highly he had his butler hide his clothing so he was forced to either write or leave the house in the nude. That’s dedication!
The moral? Productivity is a recluse.
Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, claimed to be a “completely horizontal author.” His specific recipe for success included lying down in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. He admitted that the coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis as the day wore on. Even while using a typewriter he would be in bed, with the typewriter balanced on his knees. We’re guessing the martinis were in reaching distance on the bedside table.
One of the greatest living American writers, Philip Roth works standing up, pacing around as he thinks. He claimed to walk half a mile for every page he writes. He separates his work life from personal life, and doesn’t write where he lives — he has a studio built away from his house. He works at a lectern that doesn’t face the view of his studio window, to avoid distraction.
The moral? Being deskbound isn’t mandatory.
So there you have it. There’s no such thing as normal. If you’re thinking of going your own way when it comes to further education, we’re more than happy to show you your options. Give us a call any time on 13 OPEN (6736).